Music

Neil Young files lawsuit to sue Donald Trump over song use

Neil Young has reportedly filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump for copyright infringement over the use of his songs.

The 74-year-old musician shared copies of the lawsuit on his Neil Young Archives website, which are said to show that the papers were filed in the Southern District of New York on Tuesday. 

Two of Neil’s songs listed in the lawsuit are Rockin’ In The Free World and Devil’s Sidewalk, which Trump’s campaign is accused of playing at past campaign rallies without permission. 

They were played ‘numerous times at rallies and political events for the entertainment and amusement of those attending those rallies and political events,’ the suit notes. 

It continues: ‘This complaint is not intended to disrespect the rights and opinions of American citizens, who are free to support the candidate of their choosing. 

‘However, [Young] in good conscience cannot allow his music to be used as a “theme song” for a divisive, un-American campaign of ignorance and hate. 

Most recently, both songs were played at Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma in June. 

‘The campaign does not now have, and did not at the time of the Tulsa rally, have a license or [Young’s] permission to play the two songs at any public political event,’ the lawsuit argues. 

‘[Trump’s campaign] willfully ignored [Young] telling it not to play the Songs and willfully proceeded to play the Songs despite its lack of a license and despite its knowledge that a license is required to do so.’ 

Neil is reportedly seeking statutory damages and for Trump to be banned from playing his music in the future. 

It comes just days after a host of musicians banded together to sign an open letter with the Artist Rights Alliance, with the aim of ensuring Trump’s campaign seeks permission to play their music.

Cyndi Lauper, Lorde, R.E.M., Linkin Park, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, Sia, Blondie, Sheryl Crow, Green Day and Panic! at the Disco are among the other artists who have joined the petition. 

‘Being dragged unwillingly into politics in this way can compromise an artist’s personal values while disappointing and alienating fans – with great moral and economic cost,’ the letter states.

‘Music tells powerful stories and drives emotional connection and engagement – that’s why campaigns use it, after all! But doing so without permission siphons away that value.’ 

Metro.co.uk has contacted reps for Donald Trump and Neil Young for comment. 

Times President Trump used music without permission

Rolling Stones

The legendary rock band warned President Trump they would take legal action after he played You Can’t Always Get What You Want as he walked off stage at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on 20 June 2020.

Their legal team then revealed they were working with performing rights organisation BMI to stop him using any of their songs during future political campaigning.

A statement said: ‘The BMI have notified the Trump campaign on behalf of the Stones that the unauthorised use of their songs will constitute a breach of its licensing agreement.

‘If Donald Trump disregards the exclusion and persists then he would face a lawsuit for breaking the embargo and playing music that has not been licensed.’

Linkin Park

In June 2020, the band issued a cease and desist letter to Trump after he retweeted a video originally posted by his White House social media director Dan Scavino.

The video reportedly featured Linkin Park’s 2001 song In The End but the band claimed they did not give permission for their music to be used.

Twitter soon removed it citing a copyright complaint from the owner.

A tweet from the group’s Twitter account stated: ‘Linkin Park did not and does not endorse Trump, nor authorize his organization to use any of our music. A cease and desist has been issued.’

It’s believed Trump’s administration received a Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice from Linkin Park’s record label Machine Shop Entertainment.

Adele

During his presidential campaign run in 2016, Trump played some of Adele’s biggest hits at his rallies, including Rolling In The Deep and Skyfall.

The music icon’s rep swiftly made it clear that Adele does not endorse the Republican and told The Guardian: ‘Adele has not given permission for her music to be used for any political campaigning.’

Steven Tyler

In 2015, reps for the Aerosmith rocker sent a letter to Trump demanding that he stop playing his song Dream On at his campaign events.

Trump made the rare move of responding to this complaint and tweeted: ‘Even though I have the legal right to use Steven Tyler’s song, he asked me not to.

‘Have better one to take its place!’

Sir Elton John

It was reported that Trump had reached out to Sir Elton’s team to request that the music icon’s music could be used as the soundtrack at their events.

But Sir Elton put a block to this even before Trump could press play, with a rep stating: ‘Elton’s music has not been requested for use in any official capacity by Donald Trump.

‘Any use of his music should not be seen as an endorsement of Donald Trump by Elton.’

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